Posts tagged ‘laughter’

Thank you, Terry Jones

One night, in the early 1970s, our family (Mom, Dad, my brother, my sister, and I) had turned in for the night. We were in our rooms, the lights were out, and the house was settling into deep quiet as we closed our eyes.

Then. From the darkness, I heard a dastardly rasp. “Dinsdale?”

As the laughter subsided, someone yelled “Albatross!” and, like deranged Waltons, we continued to bid each other an extended goodnight, with other Monty Python quotes and a lot of giggling.

I thought of that night when I heard the news that comedian Terry Jones had died. I can claim no familiarity with the man; I’m neither family nor friend; I never met him. But I can legitimately sympathize with the tragedy of dementia, and his absence from the world makes me sad.

I have heard people complain about an excess of attention when a celebrity dies. I think they are looking at it wrong. There is no weird Tier of Importance. Fame does not make a loss a greater loss. We mourn the passing of a celebrity because that person was known to so many. The sound of grief is louder because more people are aware that this particular person existed.

The things we share, as a herd of humans moving through the same group of decades, have an impact. Historical moments. Scientific breakthroughs. And, yes, entertainment. I would say especially entertainment because human brains have a far easier time with a Python punchline than with a Pythagorean theorem.

Humor connects us in a way other things don’t. Comedic movies and TV shows can affect our point of view, teach us lessons, and leave a nugget of familiarity for even the most diverse strangers to connect over. (Nothing against those of you who prefer Math, but nothing sparks new camaraderie or long-time loyalty like a laugh shared.)

When someone famous dies, a little piece of our collective past breaks away. It is the sort of landmark at which a bunch of persons of a certain age have to stop for a moment and take the long look back.

It makes me yearn for a time machine.

I remember, so clearly, sitting in my jammies with my brother and sister, laughing really hard over Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a TV program that we had discovered on UHF, which was quite unlike The Brady Bunch.

I’m sure there are a gazillion things you could read that explain why that show was creative and ground-breaking, but that’s not what I’m on about. Suffice to say Monty Python was uniquely, outrageously, intelligently hilarious. (P.S. I am not trying to imply that 11-year-old me understood every reference or even every word. But it was all wonderfully silly.)

Credit the Pythons for putting a significant dent in my sense of humor or blame them for contributing to my weirdness. Either way I wouldn’t change that part of my upbringing for anything.

Thank you, Terry Jones, et al.

 

 

January 31, 2020 at 6:33 pm Leave a comment

Cheers to the Girls

­­­­­This post is for a particular group of girlfriends who are life preservers cut from the highest quality cloth that you could ever find (in the irregulars bin).

On the way into work today, I heard a new song by Martin Sexton, Livin’ the Life. He asks:

     Are you livin’ the life that you’ve always dreamed of?
     Giving your time to the ones who make you smile?

And, although the first line had me thinking “Oh, no . . . ,” the second brought me back with a “Hell yeah.”

This past Saturday night I enjoyed a night out with a group of women who’ve been making me smile for a lot of years. We’ve known each other our entire adult lives, which is between 20 and 30 years depending on who met who at which point in time (and depending of course on how you define adult).  But, however you figure it, we’ve been friends a long time.

They are my confidantes and co-conspirators. They’ve been my concert buddies since before there was a StarLake. We have been teammates—the (original and only true) Ms. Fits—cheering as champions, empathizing as losers, or, way more often than either of those, laughing our collective butts off at something-other-than-win-or-lose. (Like that tournament when we spent the three- or four-hour delay between pool play and the championship drinking beer and a bit of schnapps.)

Yeah. We lost. But we were entertaining.

In addition to Ms. Fits, we’ve called ourselves Pikers, Mustang Sisters, and, more recently, the Mutant Middle-Age Ninja Toilet-Paperers. We’ve driven each other’s cars. We’ve slept on each other’s couches. We have painted each other’s houses (and one garage). We sit on the bride’s side. And then go after the bouquet wearing baseball gloves. We’ve watched the Civic Arena roof open up. We’ve watched the Candle Glo close down. We’ve spent many a fine night talking (and a hilarious couple of hours hiding) on each other’s porches. These ladies make it okay to be yourself, whether yourself is happy, sad, successful, poor, dressed up, dressed down, good hair day, bad hair day, half-naked, drunk, smart, stupid, or just an a-hole. We have enjoyed infamous vacations and crazy long weekends. Couple of us even lived together for a bit in a lovely (ahem) duplex down in Sharpsburg. We’ve skied, played, dined, and stayed. We’ve been campfire dancing, inter-tubing, skinny-dipping, moon-bathing, conga-lining, bowling, and practical joking for years. And all of it in (mostly) good (mostly) clean (mostly) legal fun.

I never laugh as hard as when I am with these chicks. These are humans in the rarest of categories who have a tremendous capacity to laugh-with but who may (and do) laugh-at with immunity. If we’re together, for twenty minutes or eight hours, there is a constant whir of giggling, tittering, chuckling, cackling, squealing, guffawing, belly laughing—and, yes, the occasional buck-snort, which only starts us laughing all over again. It’s the kind of hilarity when you can barely catch your breath before the next zinger, one-liner, or remember-when has you gasping. Going out with this group is like going to a very small comedy club to see headliners with great comedic timing and superb material.

The material comes from a distinct familiarity, a simpatico, a frame of reference constructed over years and years and years of shared experiences. And through that history, we gained the other key to friendship:  Trust. They trust me around their children. I trust them to guard a port-a-john door. I trust them with my purse (even tho I know they’ll fill it up with sugar packets or silverware). I trust them to watch my beer (even tho I know they’ll pass it around and drink it all before I return). We know each other’s secrets. We walk in without knocking. I would trust them with a pin number, a winning lottery ticket, or a date. Whether we cross paths daily or annually, I trust they’ll be there when needed.

Yeah, maybe this is not the life I always dreamed of, but it’s been a life that’s brought me life-long friendships. And if laughter truly is the best medicine, that’ll be long enough to raise some hell and a few eyebrows at the old folks home.

(Oh, and when the time comes, I’m trusting you guys with some of my ashes.)

March 8, 2010 at 1:37 pm 4 comments


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